Introducing Laura Draetta

Laura Draetta is an Associate Professor in sociology at Télécom Paris (Campus SophiaTech, Eurecom). She joined the Area 5 – Telecommunications and the digital society – which is supervised by Patrick Waelbroeck (Télécom Paris, IP Paris, France), in 2019.

Annals of Telecommunications: What were your motivations to join the Board?
Laura Draetta: In 2018, I was invited to publish an article in a special issue of the journal, dedicated to human exposure to electromagnetic fields. I am a sociologist, and my research focused at that time on the public controversy over electric smart meters with a focus on health issues. It is quite unusual to publish outside your own scientific community so at first sight I thought it was not my place to publish among engineers and epidemiologists discussing human exposure to radio frequencies. However, I took up the challenge of proposing an article on the non-linear relationship between a technology assessment based exclusively on evidence and public controversies, basing my work on the case of smart meters. After its publication, the article circulated quite a lot, and I was able, thanks to this, to have interesting transdisciplinary exchanges as well as great proposals for international collaborations. Following this positive experience, I was asked to join the editorial board of Annals of Telecommunications and I saw the opportunity to work concretely, at the level of the journal, for the opening of dialogue between technological sciences and social sciences.

What do you intend on bringing to the Area 5? How will your current research support it or vice versa?
There are many promises around new technologies developed or emerging as part of the digital society. Technological sciences are the bearers of programs which should be questioned not only in terms of justification regimes and their technical feasibility, but also in terms of implementation processes, issues – ethical, environmental, and social – that they raise, their externalities and irreversibilities, as well as their governance, between innovation and precaution. My wish, within the framework of the Area 5, is to bring the journal into facilitating the submission of papers carrying this critical view so as to widen its scope of discussion by crossing the boundaries of the technoscientific debate and by opening it up more to the public debates. My current research could strengthen the Area 5 by orienting its debates towards the uncertainties – scientific, technical, and social – linked to controversial digital technologies, also towards the conditions of emergence of technoscientific controversies in the public sphere, as well as towards the role of these controversies in the social appropriation of emerging digital technologies.

Have you joined other editorial boards?
I act as a reviewer for the journal Vertigo (environmental sciences) as well as for the publishers Oxford University Press and Routledge.